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Naive 'justice'

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Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010

Conviction of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee linked to al-Qaida's 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on just one of 285 counts -- conspiracy to destroy U.S. property -- proves the naivete (or is it idiocy?) of the Obama administration trying suspected terrorists in civilian courts.

The judge's exclusion of a key witness -- because that witness had been identified while Ahmed Ghailani, 36, was in a secret CIA prison where harsh interrogation techniques were used -- hampered the prosecution in federal court in Lower Manhattan.

Thus, an indisputable miscarriage of justice resulted from court-granted protection that Mr. Ghailani -- an enemy combatant, not a U.S. citizen -- didn't deserve and wouldn't have received from a military tribunal at Gitmo.

Even if he gets the maximum sentence of life in prison for his sole conviction, as he should, justice still will have been denied to the 224 people killed in the embassy bombings -- and their loved ones -- by his acquittal on 224 homicide charges, one for each of those victims.

It's an outcome so repugnant for a nation at war that it must convince the administration to not risk trying other terrorism cases -- including that of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- in civilian courts.

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